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Subbing, Not Snubbing Installers

(February 2014) posted on Wed Feb 05, 2014

A four-step process for subcontracting installers.

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By Jared Smith

At our shop, we outsource about 10 percent of our vehicle-wrap installs. Yes, for the most part we rely upon our in-house install crew of about 30 installers around the country – after all, they’ve all but spoiled us with their record-setting speed and quality work. But there are some instances when it just makes more sense to outsource and use a subcontractor.

In fact, subcontracted installers can become a pretty vital component of the wrap game. An outsourced install solution, when it’s successfully managed, can definitely make or break a shop. I’m all for giving new installers a shot at our business, but to ensure we have the best possible experience when using a subcontractor, we’ve assembled a four-step process. If we have a subcontracted install go wrong along the way, we’ve found that we can almost always trace it back to skipping at least one of these steps.

Criteria and qualifications
Our first step is to have set criteria of just when we should use a sub in the first place. These criteria will likely be different for every shop – but having it agreed upon and documented to your team is something all shops should certainly do.

Our general rule of thumb: If the job is local, we’ll use our own crew unless the current workload is bigger than we can handle. If the job is not local, but it’s big enough or important enough, we’ll also send our own crew.

By “big enough,” we usually mean multiple vehicles, all in one spot, that we can send a crew for at least three days. These jobs typically entail four to 50 vehicles; this generally seems to be the breaking point where it’s more profitable to cover travel costs and still send our crew. By “important enough,” we mean that the job is very high profile, or the price for failure is too high – like a super-rushed NHRA vehicle.

But even though sending one of our own installers might make us feel safer as it relates to cost and performance, it’s sometimes just not practical. We’ll almost always turn to a subcontractor on standard (easy) jobs that are remote, or even challenging jobs in a remote market where we have established relationships with talented and dependable contacts.